On Saturyday, after some 35 years, John Hinckley, Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981 was released from mental hospital. In late July, a federal judge ruled that Hinckley is no longer a danger to himself or the public, and that the 61 year old can live full time at his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Hinckley, who was immediately captured at the scene of the assassination attempt, had somewhat been forgotten over the years, until talk of his release surfaced, even though, he is officially the last person to actually inflict a wound on a sitting U.S. president in an assassination attempt.
Here are 5 important facts about Hinckley and his release:
1. The Reagan assassination attempt was likely not the first time that Hinckley had decided to assassinate a president. Hinckley was arrested at Nashville International Airport for possession of three firearms, on the very day that President Jimmy Carter was in town.
2. Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Reagan on March 30, 1981 as he exited the Washington Hilton Hotel.
3. Of the 6 shots that Hinckley fired, one hit President Reagan and pierced his left lung. President Reagan was rushed to the hospital, where he insisted on walking out under his own power, even though he was very weak, having difficulty breathing, and had lost a great deal of blood. President Reagan’s reason was that as president, he cannot be seen being carried.
4. Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, was shot in the head. Brady survived, but spent 28 years in a wheelchair because he was partially paralyzed.
5. This was not the first time that Hinckley had been recommended for release by mental health officials who were in charge of his treatment. In fact, on April 11, 2000, Representatives at St. Elizabeths Hospital recommended that Hinckley be allowed unsupervised visits with family. However, June 29, 2000, they withdrew their recommendation for unsupervised visits to Hinckley’s parents’ Williamsburg home, following a hearing in which prosecutors provided evidence of Hinckley’s continued interest in violent books and music.
Here are the conditions under which Hinckley is being released today as reported by NPR:
- He must notify a member of his treatment team before visiting any private homes.
- He is not allowed contact with the media.
- He “may not publicly display, physically or on the internet, any memorabilia, writings, paintings, photographs, art work, or music created by him, even anonymously,” without the approval of his treatment team.
- He is not allowed to contact his victims, their family members, or Jodie Foster — who he was obsessed with. He may not “knowingly travel” to areas where “the current or former Presidents, Vice Presidents, members of Congress, senior members of the Executive Branch, or any U.S. Secret Service protectee are or will be present imminently.
- He is not allowed to consume alcohol or illegal drugs.
- He “may only reside in the community with his mother at her home in Williamsburg, Virginia for at least the first full year of convalescent leave. After a year on convalescent leave, following the comprehensive risk assessment conducted by the Hospital, Mr. Hinckley may reside in a separate residence, either alone or with roommates, or in a group home within a 30-mile radius of Williamsburg,” if all the members of his treatment team agree.
- He can only travel within a 30-mile radius of his mother’s home unaccompanied unless it is to an appointment for treatment in D.C.
- He must “carry a GPS-enabled cell phone whenever he is away from his mother’s residence.”
- He must volunteer or work at least three days every week.
- He must meet with a doctor for psychiatric treatment at least twice per month, which can be reduce to once per month after 6 months.
- He must meet with a therapist for individual sessions at least three times per month and group sessions every week. The individual sessions can be reduced to twice a month after six months.
- He must participate in music therapy sessions at least once per month.